Historic Order provides aid to homeless feeling the chill

The Order of Malta has initiated a project to provide some comfort to those sleeping rough, by distributing their specially designed “Coats for the Homeless”. Photo: Supplied.

The Order of Malta, a 900-year-old lay Order of the Catholic Church and a humanitarian aid organisation, has initiated a project to provide some comfort to those sleeping rough, by distributing their specially designed “Coats for the Homeless”.

Despite only having five Members of the Order of Malta based in WA, they have distributed more than 2000 coats across the state over the past seven years, with plans to distribute a further 400 apparels this winter.

Members of the Order of Malta Region Coordinator Dr Michael Shanahan said the coat was designed in close consultation with the homeless people themselves, to ensure it meets their specific needs.

“It is three-quarter length, shower-proof, quilted and warm,” he explained.

“Most importantly, it is black so the person wearing it is inconspicuous, after feedback revealed their biggest fear is being assaulted.

“The coat provides the warmth of a sleeping bag or swag without restricting movement. It is free from uncomfortable buttons or zips, with just elastic and Velcro to offer a comfortable night’s sleep and ease of wear,” he added.

Dr Shanahan is urging Australians to give someone warmth and comfort this winter by buying them a coat.

“Every day, almost 20,000 Australians are sleeping rough on the streets of our cities and towns,” he said.

“Half of all people who request accommodation from the homeless service system are turned away each day, due to a lack of beds. This leaves them extremely vulnerable, not only to the cold weather but to other dangers.”

“The demand for these coats is overwhelming” he goes on to explain.

“We could easily distribute twice as many. The only issue limiting the number of coats we are able to distribute is a lack of funds.”

Members of the Order in WA are committed to raising the money to distribute 400 coats this winter and will work alongside organisations who provide services to the homeless, including The Shopfront, St Patrick’s Community Support Day Centre in Fremantle, and various St Vincent de Paul conferences.

$100 will buy three specially designed, warm shower-proof coats for people who find themselves without a home this winter.

If you would like to support the Order of Malta in WA, you can make a donation online at www.coatsforthehomeless.org or send a cheque payable to ‘The Order of Malta’ to:

WA Charitable Works appeal
The Order of Malta
33 – 37 West Street
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

Gifts of $2 and more are tax deductible. The Order of Malta (ABN 37 142  209 121) is a Public Benevolent institution and is endorsed by the Australian Tax Office as Deductible Gift Recipient.

This article first appeared in The Record and is republished with permission.

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